By Lloyd Jodah
2011 is a big year for batsman/fast bowler Mital Patel, he was selected to be in the USA Under 19 team, playing in February in the ICC Americas Qualifier for the 2012 U19 World Cup. Then in March he represents Rutgers University in the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship.

Mital Patel during USACA 2009 National Under-19 Conference. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Currently a freshman at Rutgers University Mital Patel is studying for a Finance and Medicine Double Major, “I wanted to choose something that would combine a branch of business with the field of medicine,” he explained.

Mital started playing cricket at the age of 9, he said “I decided to try cricket because it was something my dad played. My dad played county cricket in England and helped me learn the basics when I was young.” At 11, he started playing formal cricket with the regular season ball (hard ball) and also began competing in national Under 13 and Under-15 tournaments. In 2006 Mital played for the USA team that won the Americas Cup at the Under-15 level, and in 2008 was Vice Captain of the Atlantic Region Under 19 team.

A left hand explosive batsmen and right arm fast bowler Mital says his most memorable innings was in “a USA U-15 tournament in California, I scored 92* and took the team from a 2-41 after 15 overs to 200-4 after 25 overs. I was the captain in a must win semi-final match, and I will never forget the feeling of satisfaction of knowing I saved the game for our side. I also took 3 crucial wickets in that same match and ended the game with bowling figures of 5 overs 13 runs with 3 wickets”

Mital has been practicing at the Dreamcricket indoor nets with the Rutgers Cricket team in preparation for the American College Cricket Championship in Florida,March 15-20.

“I have already played at a regional level with Rutgers captain Nisarg Choksi. It’s exciting to play with my fellow students and everyone was very welcoming and made me feel like I’m part of this team very quickly. Before coming to Rutgers I had read about American College Cricket and that Rutgers had won the Northeast Championship. It’s amazing to me to be able to play cricket for my college and it was incredible to see a college cricketer (Ian Carlin) in Sports Illustrated and Hardik Jogani featured on the Rutgers website!

Playing local league cricket since the age of 13. Mital currently plays for Wanderers Sports Club in the Garden State Cricket League (GSCL) and also for Falcons Cricket Club in Millennium Cricket League (MCL). Before playing for Wanderers, he played for Jersey Eagles Cricket Club in the Cricket League of New Jersey (CLNJ).

Between cricket and college does Mital have time for anything else? Well, he has been playing soccer since the age of 5, and has played varsity soccer in high school and might have made the Rutgers soccer team except for time pressures of school and cricket. Like a typical young man from New Jersey he said “I love to watch NY Giants football with my dad and my little brother Rishi. We have followed Giants football for as long as I can remember. It’s something that gives me a good chance to spend time to spend time with my family now that I live on campus.”

As for getting ready for a game Mital does so to music, “Before going into bat, and while practicing, I listen to Rap/Hip-Hop, R&B, English/Hindi Mixes, and Bhangra on my iPod.”

Mital Patel is a rare American kid whose family is from a cricket-background, where the father has taken the time to pass on a part of himself, cricket, to his son – if more of us did that the game would be so much more developed in the USA. Mital Patel’s Dad can be proud of what his son said about what the game has done for him:

“Cricket has helped me develop as a person by teaching me life lessons. I have gained traits such as leadership, teamwork, perseverance, and commitment. Cricket is something that I have committed to and I plan on playing cricket for the rest of my life because it makes me happy and teaches me how to be a better person overall.”